Der Sieg des Glaubens
|Der Sieg des Glaubens|
1934 German film poster
|Directed by||Leni Riefenstahl|
|Produced by||Leni Riefenstahl|
|Written by||Leni Riefenstahl|
|Music by||Herbert Windt|
|Edited by||Leni Riefenstahl
|Distributed by||Universum Film AG|
|Running time||64 minutes|
Der Sieg des Glaubens (English: Victory of Faith) (1933) is the first propaganda film directed by Leni Riefenstahl. Her film recounts the Fifth Party Rally of the Nazi Party, which occurred in Nuremberg from 30 August to 3 September 1933. The film is of great historic interest because it shows Adolf Hitler and Ernst Röhm on close and intimate terms, before Röhm was shot on the orders of Hitler on the Night of the Long Knives in July 1934. All copies of the film were apparently destroyed on Hitler's orders, until a copy turned up in the 1990s in the UK.
Its form is very similar to her later and much expanded version of the 1934 rally, known as Triumph of the Will. It is a visual record of the rally and not much else, having no analytical content, so cannot claim "documentary" status. A few speeches are given, and are shown by translated subtitles in the Internet Archive version (see below). It is pure propaganda for the Nazi party, who funded and promoted the film. The film celebrates the victory of the Nazis in achieving power with Hitler assuming the role of Chancellor of Germany in February 1933.
Like her Nazi propaganda films of 1935, the short Tag der Freiheit: Unsere Wehrmacht (Day of Freedom: Our Armed Forces) and the classic propaganda feature Triumph of the Will, Der Sieg des Glaubens documents another Nazi rally, the Fifth NSDAP Congress, in a straight chronological format. It has no voiceover or commentary. The activities captured by Riefenstahl's cameras include the welcoming of foreign diplomats and other party members and politicians (such as von Papen) at the Nuremberg train station; Adolf Hitler's arrival at the airport and his meeting with important party members such as Goebbels and Göring; massive SA parades; and Hitler's speech on the tenth anniversary of the German National Socialist movement, and the assumption to power of the Nazi party.
The events shown are in roughly chronological order, starting with the arrival of Hitler in Nuremberg and the welcome given by the Nuremberg Gauleiter, Julius Streicher, the well known anti-semite, who was later hanged after the Nuremberg trials in 1945/6 for crimes against humanity. Rudolf Hess is shown sitting next to Hitler, to which the Fuhrer passes him a bunch of flowers. Hitler is also shown in several cameos with Ernst Röhm, leader of the Sturmabteilung, whom he later murdered after a conspiracy invented by Himmler and Heydrich in the Night of the Long Knives of 1934. The welcome includes a speech from an Italian fascist leader with conveyed greetings from Benito Mussolini. It is followed by the rally on the vast parade ground recently built by Albert Speer, and includes a shot of a Zeppelin airship floating by (complete with swastika on the tailfin). There is also a separate rally of Hitlerjugend with an introduction by Baldur von Schirach. There follows a marchpast in the streets of the old city with the party leaders receiving the salutes of the massed goosestepping ranks of the Sturmabteilung and SS. Familiar faces include Rudolf Hess and Hermann Göring and a brief cameo appearance of Heinrich Himmler. He would be the star of the next version of the movie, after his successful efforts to indict Röhm and those around him also purged in the Night of the Long Knives. Marching troops feature again in the final sequences in the main parade ground, with tributes to the fallen from Hitler and Röhm, and various flag ceremonies which seem to have some quasi-religious significance to the ever loyal followers of the creed. The shots of marching feet and legs has an almost hypnotic effect on the viewer, well parodied by a later British wartime short which matches the time of the marching to the popular song "Doing the Lambeth Walk".
The film includes Ernst Röhm, head of the Sturmabteilung and, at the time, the second most powerful man within the Nazi party. In less than a year, in June/July 1934 during the Night of the Long Knives, Röhm and many of his lieutenants were executed under Hitler's orders. Hitler personally roused Röhm from his bed at his lakeside hotel when he arrested him for alleged treason (a trumped up charge prepared by Himmler and Heydrich). All references to Röhm were ordered to be erased from German history, which included the destruction of all known copies of this film. The film Triumph des Willens was produced to replace it and follows a similar script which is evident when one sees both films side by side. For example, the city of Nuremberg scenes—down to the shot of a cat that is included in the city driving sequence in both films. There are panning shots across the roofs of the old town, showing the city awakening before the rally starts in earnest. The camera angles and editing that made Riefenstahl's Triumph des Willens a ground-breaking film are already demonstrated in Der Sieg des Glaubens. Furthermore, Herbert Windt reused much of the musical score for this film in "Triumph des Willens", which he also scored.
In April 1934, Riefenstahl was visiting Great Britain to speak at major universities to discuss her propaganda film techniques. It is during this visit that at least one copy of this film is known to have been duplicated. It was found after being in storage for over 60 years, and is the only known surviving print. In the home video editions most commonly available, the opening credits appear to have been shot off of a screen projection, but the remainder of the footage appears to be a direct copy of a print. It is available for free viewing and download at the Internet Archive (see below).
A digitally restored edition was released on DVD by International Historic Films in 2012.
- Leni Riefenstahl
- List of German films 1933-1945
- Nazism and cinema
- Nazi propaganda
- List of rediscovered films
- Nuremberg rallies
- Festliches Nürnberg
- Der Sieg des Glaubens at the Internet Movie Database
- Der Sieg des Glaubens is available for free download at the Internet Archive [more]
- Der Sieg des Glaubens at AllMovie